An augmented reality (AR) book is being launched to help families to learn British Sign Language (BSL). The book, created by Bristol-based publishers VIKA Books, is in collaboration with the deaf community.  Where is the Bird? is a book that to inspire families, to interact in BSL. Turn the pages and ‘wake up’ illustrations through your smartphone as AR animations, alongside a video of the BSL sign.

Victoria Forrest HeadshotBaby BSL was conceived by Victoria Forrest, of VIKA Books, after a frustrating experience learning sign language with her baby. “I’d heard of baby sign language as a way to speak to babies before they could talk.” says Victoria, “It made perfect sense, especially as we’d been told our baby would speak later if he was raised in a bilingual family.

Teaching materials for BSL are surprisingly limited, even though the impact of being able to sign with children under the age of two is huge. This is a particular problem for the 90% of deaf children born to hearing parents. For hearing families, the complexities of speech are a contributor to the ‘Terrible Twos’, a time when children have independent thoughts, but can’t express them. Baby BSL helps to bridge the gap, helping children communicate earlier.

Where is the Bird

Where is the Bird? is named after a simple game in the book that uses two signs ‘Where?’ and ‘Bird’ so parents can use signs in context and help them ‘find’ more signs in a walk in the Park’. This unique, design entertains children whilst the AR enables easy access to the pop-up animations and BSL videos. To activate the videos, simply view the hand-drawn illustrations in the book through the free-to-download app (Search for ‘Baby BSL’ on AppStore).

“Pointing at and acknowledging objects together is so empowering for a young baby,” says Victoria, “Our goal is for families to have fun describing the world around them in sign. The more you practise together, the quicker you will learn.”

Even before its launch, Baby BSL has won two prestigious awards: the Audience of the Future Award from InnovateUK and the South West Creative Technology Network’s Immersive Prototype Award. 

“We’re using simple and fun technology to introduce all families to sign language through play. Our hope is that every family in the UK, deaf or hearing, has the opportunity to grow up learning simple BSL and can benefit from this rich and expressive language.”

Andrew Chitty, Audience of the Future Challenge Director at UKRI said “The UK is home to some of the world’s leading digital and creative talent, and we’re proud of the role UKRI and the Audiences of the Future programme plays in supporting it. We have seen incredible technological advances in the creative industries, captivating the public’s imagination and changing the way we participate in cultural experiences. We’re impressed by the innovative use of augmented reality used in ‘Where is the Bird?’ and look forward to seeing what the future holds for this project.”

Find out more…

‘Where is the Bird?’ will be launched in Waterstones Bristol at 7pm on Oct 11th with a wealth of opportunities for families to experience BSL in new ways. 

Check out the video here –


Ben Shorrock

Ben has been working to help grow tech and digital business for the last decade. He is currently the MD of TechSPARK the Southwest’s network for tech startups and scale ups working with 25,000 people a month to help them recruit, network and raise capital in the UK’s most productive Tech cluster (TechNation 2019). He sits on the boards of the UK Tech Cluster Group, Bristol’s ONce City Economy Board, Tech Swindon, Tech Southwest and is a co-founder of Bristol Tech Festival. Prior to working for TechSPARK, Ben worked in consultancy with businesses opening new sites internationally. In this role, he helped set up Invest Bristol & Bath and the Netherlands consulate for the north of England.